Assorted alcohol bottles stand behind three different pills

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September 10, 2019

An op-ed posted in the Baltimore Sun last month called for urgent action from higher education leaders to combat excessive alcohol and drug use, which the authors called a “national crisis.” Alcohol-related incidents are responsible for more than 1500 student deaths each year.

While many institutions have response systems in place for dealing with the consequences of abusing drugs or alcohol, the article says, few are “proactively engaged.” 

The op-ed’s authors state that mere drug and alcohol education is not enough and instead students should be made aware of the negative impacts substance use can have on their ability to study, achieve high grades, level of enjoyment and even the likelihood of long-term addiction. 

A new primer created by the School of Public Health and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) hopes to equip schools with greater resources to combat substance abuse. The primer compiled successful strategies and research about student substance use, which could pave the way for other institutions to implement proactive preventative measures.

The report provides examples of evidence-based programs at institutions across the country while emphasizing that the most effective approaches to college substance use must be tailored to the culture and particular challenges faced by each community.

The publication, titled Addressing College Drinking and Drug Use: A Primer for Trustees, Administrators, and Alumni, is available via free pdf download on ACTA’s website. So far it has been sent to tens of thousands of college and university trustees, presidents, and those working for higher education change across the U.S. 

“Prevention through changing campus culture is harder than addressing individual incidents, but it is essential,” said the op-ed authors. 

The study was jointly authored by Behavioral and Community Health Professor Amelia Arria, who has conducted federally funded research that has focused on substance use and academic achievement. 

“College leaders have a deep vested interest in the success of their students,” she said. “They understand that removing substance use as a barrier to success is paramount. This guide will help them align their strategies with the science and strengthen campus initiatives that will improve student outcomes and save lives.”

Related Links

Addressing College Drinking and Drug Use: A Primer for Trustees, Administrators, and Alumni

Baltimore Sun Op-Ed: Maryland colleges need to do more to reduce student alcohol abuse

Related People
Amelia Arria